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What Are the Qualities That Drive Start-Up Success?

Almost all start-ups begin with a Big Idea. Yet few start-ups end up going the distance as the technology news time and time again reports on businesses that don’t make it. What are the qualities that drive start-up success? Here are a few key points.

What do customers love? Business success is built largely on meeting the demand, whether realized or not, that customers have. When a business can fulfill a customer’s needs, they are halfway there to gaining a loyal, paying customer. People who love a product are more likely to speak passionately about that product to others. This evangelization is worth millions in advertising dollars.

Empathy. Business success is driven in large part by entrepreneurs who work smart and fast to deliver on their ideas, getting concepts to market and delivering desired goods and services at the moment of need. However, successful entrepreneurs are also empathetic, understanding the needs and wants of customers, employers, suppliers, and investors. Acting on these desires is a sure way to build affinity among those needed most for success.

Clarity of Purpose. A smart start-up is crystal clear about its mission. Every employee should be able to articulate the reason a company exists, what it is trying to achieve, and why the work matters. This clarity of purpose serves two critical needs. First, it lets your customers know exactly what your company is about. Second, it helps employees see why their work is relevant and will enable the company to meet its desired goals.

Successful start-ups know when it’s time to pivot and try a new approach.

Disruption. Some of the most transformational companies in the past 20 years – Amazon, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb – realized the same thing: There were markets prime to be disrupted by new players. Disruptive influences have changed the way the world shops (for everything), lodges while traveling, gets around a large city, or communicates with each other. That’s because entrepreneurs saw opportunities for disruption and committed their companies to being one of those disruptive forces.

Time to Pivot. Smart entrepreneurs don’t rest blindly on what’s gotten them to a certain point in their success. They also know when it’s time to pivot, shifting gears to a better solution, a new business strategy, or different business processes. Loyalty is important, but sometimes, the smart move is to move on from what’s worked before.

Persistence. Every entrepreneur is going to make a mistake. Smart ones learn from those mistakes, developing resilience and seeing how their errors can lead to new ways of thinking about or approaching issues in the future. Start-ups vying for funding or customers might face a great deal of rejection, but they persist through those difficult times until they find the solution that works.

Think Big-Ish. You do not always need to go big and long when it comes to a new start-up. Sometimes, a niche approach makes more sense. It lets you understand a specific market, segment, or industry more deeply and understand wants and needs. You can then apply what you’ve learned to a broader release strategy later (see Time to Pivot). Focusing on small and mid-sized businesses is another approach.

Having the right skills and mindset help successful entrepreneurs drive their start-ups to desired states.